Thoughts to Take Care Of Over Winter Break That Have Come Up During Your First Semester

Coming into college forces you to realize and experience so many new aspects about yourself that you may not have before, or did not even want to, and some of that may need to be reconciled. Right now, these new realizations about your identity, goals, future, even study habits, are at the back of your mind as you are are wrapping up break. So keep them there and be sure to address them before school starts:


  1. Facing your identity… maybe for the first time

Maybe you have been coasting through three years of undergrad without being constantly reminded of an identity you have suppressed… or maybe you didn't even know you were suppressing grievances or feelings towards one, until a course that forced you to realize it. The latter is my personal experience: for one of the first assignments of my Narratives of Identity class, I had to tell a story about my identity I didn't even notice had such a big impact in my life, until half way through the presentation when I started bawling. I never knew hoe big of an impact had on my life until saying it out loud became overwhelming. While I was trying to forget that day and revert to pre-college me, one where that identity was somehow nonexistent in my everyday thoughts, I found aspects of college reminding me of that identity every day. Whether it be through ignorant classmates, professors, assignments, or college events, I grew extremely frustrated. I was reducing myself to only that identity as a result, and couldn’t see myself as anything but that label. Assuming my former confidence seemed dire as I was having a #Lowkey identity crisis. Of course, it’s hard to take a few hours out of each day to think and talk to friends and family about it, so I’ve taken a rain check on it and will revisit this identity during Winter Break to reconcile it. This ties into mental health and self-care as well. If there is a real problem you are having difficulty facing or reconciling, you really should work on it, because it is bugging you so hard for a reason! But after, make sure to never let any one thing define your identity- you are so much more than a skin color, gender, or GPA, even if you are proud of them! There’s so much to ~you~.


2. Facing your evolution into adulthood

Maybe you came into college thinking you were super dependent. Maybe that’s why you did not decide to go out of state… or even stay in a dorm. Despite thinking that you are not #adulting all on your own, you are still gaining experience and doing tasks that will feel like an official transition into adulthood. Self advocacy and making appointments with professors and advisors, adding them to your agenda and attending them will make you feel in control of your own life… and however minuscule that may seem, it might be a new concept that deviates from your parents talking on your behalf when you were in high school. The new confidence will allow you to see and think of yourself as no longer a teen, but as a full-fledged adult. So you need to face that change and unlock the new knowledge that you can. Sit down and assess what you can now do and even what you should do. Learn about yourself, this new you and how you have officially started a new chapter of life. Maybe you thought that happened when you stepped foot on campus, but a semester of independence and the realization that comes with it officially started the new chapter. Make this conscious effort of thinking of yourself as an adult with new privileges and responsibilities because doing so will allow you to grow and do things for your career and future.


3. Facing what you want your near future to be

This may be more applicable to upperclassmen, who have already taken classes for their major and tested the waters of their field of study. You have been exposed to the high stress lifestyle of your dream career, or realized you have more potential than what your possible career will let you exercise. Maybe the high-profile status of a career woman that you glorified so much seems too stressful and consuming, and you’d be a-ok with a mellow life with a steady income that is more family oriented. Or maybe you want the opposite- you want the honor and prestige that comes with walking into a room where everyone knows your name and wants to work with you, and to be able to cite your own journals or research to others. And if you are still unsure, take time to look at the Mason courses catalog for other majors and their requirements, or make an appointment with your advisor to talk about other career opportunities that match what you want with what you are willing to do. Take the time to also look into grad schools, and their requirements, so you can have a gauge and check of how you are working to reach them. This is also a great time to talk to your parents about the changes or, if you just had not already, inform them about your plans, dream grad schools, and how to pay for their tuition. If you are interested in, say, law school, look at the tutoring offered and think about getting a job to save up for it- Work on your resume! Apply for internships! Reach those goals, so make sure you inform yourself about how to.


4. Judge on your abilities in college to change your schedule and routine accordingly

I came into college not wanting to join many groups or activities (except Her Campus!) I wanted to test the waters for how college classes are- their difficulty or time concuming-ness, and see how different that would be from what I was used to handling in high school. If they were harder, I would avoid joining activities next semester, and if my college schedule allowed for more time, I would plan to join more groups next semester. So reflect on how you worked with the college life. Did you have a lot of free time? Was that because you were putting the bare minimum effort into your assignments? What do you want to do with your free time next semester? Take more classes or join social clubs? Were you almost always pressed for time? Was that because of your classes or do you need to improve your time management? Be completely honest with yourself because this reflection can only help you.


5. Revising your study habits

You've made it to the end of the semester, but you regret how it happened. You realized you need to change your study habits but it was simply too late. During the semester, you skimmed all your readings and did fine, until you look at the final study guide and realize you should have read them all in full, which you can’t do last minute. Take everything you regret and do the opposite next semester, and every time you want to slack off, remember moments you really suffered and use that as motivation!


Winter break is a blessing after such high-stress finals week(s), not to mention it’s perfectly long- one month! Take this free time to reconcile these things about yourself so you can be sure of yourself as you grow and make your mark in the academic or work world. A confident woman demands respect and is taken seriously. Even if you don't care about appearances or impressions, do it for you. Don’t let yourself be caught off guard with new realizations about yourself that could throw you off for weeks. Show your inner thoughts who’s boss, collegiettes!